Animal Aid

Outrage over 'clean bill of health' for death-trap racecourse

Posted 24 January 2007

Animal Aid is outraged but not surprised by the Horseracing Regulatory Authority's (HRA) announcement that a new "independent" report has given a 'clean bill of health' to the death-trap racecourse at Wolverhampton. The statement comes just days after another two horses died at the course on 13 January, bringing the total number of horses killed at the racecourse to seven in just nine weeks.

Wolverhampton has a 'Polytrack' synthetic surface in which gravel, crushed rock, sand, rubber, synthetic fibres and other materials are layered and bonded together. The evidence points to the surface becoming compacted - and dangerously firm - as a result of the unparalleled number of race meetings staged by the course. There were more than 100 racing days at Dunstall Park during 2006, which is about seven times more than is usual for a flat course. As well as the challenging surface, the oval-shaped course, with its unusually tight bends, encourages horses to bunch together.

Says Animal Aid's Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall:

'To claim that a proper "independent" inquiry has cleared the racecourse is insulting. After the first five deaths, the industry's governing body (the Horseracing Regulatory Authority) and the course operators made the astonishing suggestion that the deaths were an unfortunate statistical "blip". On that basis, they refused to suspend racing and stood back whilst another two horses died. There is clearly something very wrong with the course at Dunstall Park. How many more horses have to die before the industry puts common decency before its headlong pursuit of profit?'

Notes to editors

  • An Animal Aid study of available evidence - including 15,000 pages of race results - shows that around 375 horses are raced to death every year. Some 30% of these fatalities occur during, or immediately after, a race, and result from: a broken leg, back, neck or pelvis; fatal spinal injuries; exhaustion; heart attack; or burst blood vessels. The other victims perish from training injuries or are killed after being assessed by their owners as no-hopers.
  • Of the approximately 15,000 horses bred by the racing industry each year, only around one third go on to become racers. The fate of those who do not make the grade is uncertain. Around 5,000 racers are retired each year, yet very few go on to live out their lives in a sanctuary or adoptive home.
  • Read Animal Aid's new report on breeding and slaughter
  • View our powerful 90-second web film
  • More information

    • For full background and interviews, contact Andrew Tyler on 01732 364546.
    • ISDN line available for broadcast-quality interviews.

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